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Jobs done silently on stage

For an overweight American who felt under the weather the day he flew into town, Mike Daisey has remarkable stamina. Nivriti Butalia reports.

delhi Updated: Aug 23, 2010 00:03 IST
Nivriti Butalia

For an overweight American who felt under the weather the day he flew into town, Mike Daisey has remarkable stamina.

On Thursday evening, at the India International Centre, 37-year-old Daisey, delivered — for two straight hours, not once pausing to sip from the glass of water kept for him on the table — a performance called The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. The monologist is also a writer, an actor, an author, a commentator, a playwright, as well as a guest on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Dressed in black, Daisey sat behind a table on the stage, asked the audience not to use their cell phones. Specific instructions were given to camerapersons to not use their flash or have the little red light go off: It distracts him.

And so, with notes on multiple sheaves of yellow paper in front of him — that he almost never referred to — and stage lights dimmed to his preference, he began.

A camera clicked. He said, "No, you can't do that." And then, "Let's try this again."

Daisey is a technology geek. He devours tech sites, spends hours on forums, absorbs everything and loves his MacBook. "To pleasure myself, I dismantle my MacBook and clean it with compressed air," he said.

He then puts it back, knowing exactly how many screws there are and which goes where. His obsession with the minutiae of technology causes him to be very careful with the term 'normal people' — he's aware he doesn't qualify.

It's interesting, then, to see, how to Apple fan boy Daisey, Steve Jobs is "a complete jerk", "a brutal task master" who's "obsessed with design" and "picks fights with Greenpeace".

He tells you why Jobs is also a genius who may yell and scream and park in the handicap spots, but would make "an excellent king of France".

It's a long story, one worth listening to. He tells you why Apple without jobs is a pitiable thing. Also true the other way round.

Daisey aspirates when he's worked up. His stories make you sit up. There's no catching a nap in this audience. The rapid facts thrown at you and dark humour apart, it is an education listening to this man.

The things he says about his experience in China - parading as an American businessman at Foxconn, the largest manufacturer of electronics and computer components worldwide, and working with his Chinese translator, Cathy, make you suddenly conscious about owning an Apple product.

He talks about suicide and working conditions, the under age employees and how he met a man who assembles iPhone. Daisey asked him if he'd want one and he howled, "It doesn't even have a replaceable battery!"

In China, he had to sit through some meetings and he lays emphasis on how he can't see the "phoint" of power"phoint". You can see his saliva spray the table. Such is the passion of the man.

Daisey talks at length, animatedly, non stop, "wrestling with the audience," as he tells me later.

Delhi's a bit conscious of themselves an audience, he says.